Main Line Computer Users Group


Nov 2002 Issue 246

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - OCT 12 th


THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS
MAIN LINE COMPUTER USERS - Room 110

With an on-time start, we'll our usual few announcements. Then, follow that up with a round table on tidbits, problems and problem-solving. Since the heart of the meeting will continue on networking, it would be appropriate to hold queries on that to the main program time.

Last time, John Murphy ably introduced the topic - covering: why network? and some basics and terms (see p.ZZ) and ethernet technology. Ethernet has been the foundation technology; so getting that understanding will let YOU decide if you want to go that way, or turn to an alternate technology.

This month is hands-on time! The plan is to set up and demonstrate two basic networks. The first is the simplest possible: two computers connected by a single (crossover) cable that allows primarily for file sharing.

The second will include two computers connected via a hub to a router, which in turn will interface to the VU network (we hope) to provide internet access to both computers via the local network (or LAN).

Review what you saw last time, check out the glossary later in this issue and pull together the questions that you'd like resolved. Then, come join the crew for Networking - Part II.


Message on Microsoft

The following is an article forwarded by Layton that provides some insight into the thinking that goes on in Redmond.

From the Desk of David Pogue: A New Microsoft Blunder:

People accuse Microsoft of devious tactics all the time. Microsoft generally denies the accusations -- after all, they're flanked by the best lawyers that money can buy!

This time, though, Microsoft gave itself a big, goopy pie in the face. [cont'd]

########################################
ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
########################################

TIME TO RENEW! - it is time for the rubber to hit the road - your support of the club by renewing - helps us all. You get the benefit of help from other members AND they get the benefit of help and/or info sharing with you. Not a bad deal for $15. Please show your support with a check sent to our treasurer, Stew. The critical info is on p.ZZ.

THE EMAILING LIST - for those members who have provided an email address, we have subscribed them to the MLCUG listserver (operated most graciously by Pete Whinnery and the UPenn system). This is a way to catch early announcements, hear about problems (and solutions?) between the meetings. You can get (and give) help. A useful tool we feel; so when renewing, consider including your email address in that spot on the form.

BUILD-A-PC! - at the last steering meeting, a possible in-meeting, hands-on club project surfaced. That was the potential for a "build-it-yourself" new club computer that would be planned and implemented at our regular monthly meetings. This would serve a couple of purposes: 1) update the club PC, which is now almost six years old (and unlikely to be upgradeable to Windows XP which we may want to do in the not-too-distant future), 2) give members insight into the process and allow them to decide if they'd like to tackle such an endeavour for themselves and 3) help folks decide what they might want in a new computer.

We'd like input from the general membership. What do you think? And, do you feel expending some of the treasury on such a project would be OK. We'll discuss at the November meeting. If you can't make the meeting, but would like to comment, put something on the email list or feedback to a committee member.

REGULAR REMINDER - Attendees know that we have a very fast internet connection from the VU meeting room! So, if you have a very large download, you could bring along a zip disk (or maybe a CD-R) and get it done there, either before or after the main meeting.

LUNCH - a half dozen or so of the regular attendees, usually partake of lunch at the Villanova Diner after the meeting. Why not join us? It is a good time to get a little more help (or give it) and just to have fun talking about our common interests. The food is quite good, too!


Computer Shows

At the last meeting, I was asked how to find computer show information. So, ; here are the principle local players:


www.pcshow.com/schedule.html
www.tri-statefairs.com/schedule.html
www.marketproshows.com/Visitor/Search.asp

This list covers PA, DE, NJ and MD, plus a few more. [Layton Fireng]

****************************************
LAST MONTH'S MEETING
****************************************

The October meeting had 16 attendees - we hope to see more of a turnout for future meetings. All were reminded that renewal time has arrived for 2003 - with the dues remaining at $15. At meeting's end, we had got 4 renewals, at least a start....

Roughly the first hour was devoted to our now-usual announcements, questions, problems and answers (we fervently hope!). Folks were urged to post topics to the email list, if they know of a special question or problem they would like discussed. An alert ahead may get potenetial helpers primed!

Following the round-table, we reviewed what happens when Norton Anti-virus does a live update. John Murphy had done a series of screen grabs to show what to expect when you do it yourself. That was followed by an actual Live Update for the club PC - and we were able to flag the various steps that we had just seen in John's demo file. If you'd like to review that (especially if you missed the meeting), you can grab a copy of "LiveUpdate.pdf" from our website download area and give it a review. Thanks, John, for the primer.

We had a short discussion on SPAM "killers" and John M mentioned that he had been trying out a product called "MailWasher" (see www.mailwasher.net). For those systems that can currently use it (POP3 email accounts), it allows you to examine the email on your ISP's system and get rid of spam, WITHOUT first having to download your email. An especially interesting feature is that Mailwasher can "bounce" a message back to the sending ISP, which indicates to the sender that your account does not exist. This will eventually, perhaps sooner, induce the ISP to delete you from their sending list. (I noted that if lots of folks started bouncing spam messages, the spammer's ISP could get flooded with these replies. He might then be more inclined to stop handling the spammer's account since the bounced stuff is going to reduce the ISP's capability to handle its other business!! Sounds like a great possibility). Hopefully, at our next meeting, we can devote a bit more time to the program - mayhap do a demo (are you listening, John?).

Around this time, we moved to the main topic for the meeting - "Home Networking" - with John Murphy doing the intro. He began with the subject of "Why network at all?". ELSEWHERE in the newsletter is a summary of this part of the topic; so please look it over and be prepared to inquire if you have any questions about it. Note that John focused primarily on folks who already have 2 (or more) computers, tho some aspects of networking (e.g. security) are applicable even if you only have one computer.

Before tackling the next part, John passed out a glossary list of terms that are common in the networking trade. Folks could refer to it when they came up in the remainder of the session.

The next topic related to "protocols" or the means by which computers communicate with each other over the networks, including the internet (he reminded us that anyone using the internet is networking...). The chief ones he mentioned were: IPX/SPX (the Novell standard), NetBEUI (Microsoft's response to Novell) and TCP/IP (the language of the internet - without TCP/IP, we'd have no internet!). You'll likely see these, if you open up the "Network" control panel on your Windows PC.

Then, John summarized the concept of Adapter Addresses - this is a number assigned to each individual ethernet device at the point of manufacture. No two ethernet devices have the same address; so it uniquely identifies the device. There are also IP Addresses - which identify systems on the internet. He specifically covered the IP addresses that you'll see on a local area network (LAN) as: Class A (which has 16 million possibilities), Class B (which has 65 thousand) and Class C (which has 255). He illustrated all the preceding with the Windows utility called: Windows IP Configuration (to see it, click START>RUN and type in "winipcfg" (no quote) and click OK - look but don't touch, unless you are VERY sure of what you're doing).

John then logged onto a very helpful website: http://homenethelp.com/

This site has a raft of articles to aid in home networking and he used some of the clear illustrations to show: networking two computers via a crossover cable and a couple of configurations of home networks that include internet access that is shared by all the networked computers (either via a modem or via broadband).

The meeting wrapped up with a few followup questions. I think folks were pleased with the intro. And, as announced elsewhere in the newsletter, we expect to have "real live" network demos in November.

If you want to see how it gets done, don't miss this meeting! You'll get lots of ideas of how to spend that Christmas legacy....

****************************************
Message on Microsoft

[continued from p.1] On Oct. 9, the company posted a testimonial on its Web site called "Confessions of a Mac to PC Convert." It was a first-person account by a "freelance writer" about how she had fallen in love with Windows XP. She compared the operating system to a Lexus. "I was up and running in less than one day, Girl Scout's honor," burbled the attractive, 20- something brunette in the photo.

There was only one problem: She doesn't exist.

A with-it member of Slashdot.org, the popular hangout for articulate nerds, happened to notice that the woman's picture actually came from GettyImages.com, a stock-photo agency. Associated Press reporter Ted Bridis took it from there. He tracked authorship of the article to one Valerie Mallinson, a public-relations woman hired by Microsoft to write the story. Microsoft was caught red-handed.

I was dying to find out how this public-relations fiasco came to pass, but Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla would speak only in Officialese. "The article was mistakenly posted to the Microsoft Web Site," is all he would tell me. "Once we realized that it wasn't part of the Windows XP marketing activities, we pulled it. It's an unfortunate situation, and we take responsibility."

No wonder Microsoft has become a laughingstock online. "Once we realized . . . ?" Hello? Exactly how disconnected are the right and left hands of Microsoft's marketing organization?

And then there's the feebleness of the ad itself. Not only is it a childish attempt to mimic Apple's "Switch" campaign, but Microsoft's bogus customer is hopelessly misinformed. "AppleWorks pales in comparison to Microsoft Office XP. There's no equivalent for the versatility of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint," she writes, evidently never having heard of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Macintosh.

Then she makes it worse: "Internet Explorer 6 does more for me than Netscape Navigator ever did . . . I can name and organize my Favorites any way I want." First of all, Internet Explorer is on the Mac, too. Second, had Ms. Fictitious ever, in fact, used Netscape Navigator, she might have realized that it, too, permits naming and organizing bookmarks.

To be sure, the online community is wasting no time in rubbing these gaffes in Microsoft's face. But nobody's mentioning the most disturbing part of all this: That it's part of a longer string of fraudulent Microsoft marketing efforts.

In 1998, the Los Angeles Times reported that Microsoft, during its antitrust trials, hired PR companies to flood newspapers with fake letters of support, bearing ordinary individuals' names but actually written by Microsoft PR staff. Payments were funneled through Microsoft's PR company so that the checks couldn't be traced.

Later, during the antitrust trials, Microsoft attempted to prove the inseparability of Windows and Internet Explorer by showing the judge a video. There was only one problem: The government's lawyer noticed that as the tape rolled on, the number of icons on the desktop kept changing. Microsoft sheepishly admitted to having spliced together footage from different computers to make its point.

And now a phony testimonial illustrated by a photo bought from a stock-art agency.

What does all of this say about a company's corporate psyche that it feels the need to fabricate evidence of the public's love?

Maybe Microsoft is jealous of the genuine affection Mac fans seem to exhibit for their machines. Or could it be that the company somehow feels rejected by the quirky (and as far as anyone can tell, real) people in Apple's "Switch" ads.

But more likely, Microsoft's latest blunder demonstrates neither jealousy nor wounded pride -- it's pure arrogance. The company thinks it can get away with anything. This time, at least, it's wrong.

A screen shot of the original Microsoft ad can be viewed at: http://www.scripting.com/misc /msSwitchAd/lies.jpg

Visit David Pogue on the Web at: http://www.davidpogue.com (From circuits N.Y. TIMES)

DIRECTIONS FOR ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER MEETING ROOM

Meetings are in the St. Augustine Center at Villanova University. The regular monthly sessions will be meeting in Room 110.

[Map goes here]

Enter from the ITHAN AVENUE main gate, then proceed to the 2-level parking building adjacent to St. Augustine, on the Ithan Avenue side of the building.

NOTE: maps on our webpage - http://astro4.ast.vill.edu/mlcug/


PC/128/64 Meetings  2002-3  Steering Committee Meetings

                      November 9                        November 14 **
                      December 14                       December 18
                      January 11                        January 15

     * = first Saturday     ** = second THURSDAY at Tom Johnson's home
***************************************************************************************
EDITOR:  Emil J. Volcheck, Jr.   1046 General Allen Lane    West Chester, PA 19382-8030
(Produced with C-128D/SCPU 128, RAMlink, HD-40/85, 1571, FD-4000, THE WRITE STUFF 128, XETEC
Super Grafix, Canon BJ-200ex, Swiftlink and Motorola 288 modem)


           MLCUG BBS: 610-828-1359 ( 300 --> 33600 bps ), 24 hr/day
                 WWW: http://astro4.ast.vill.edu/mlcug/
           PUBLICITY: Robyn Josephs 610-565-4058
   VILLANOVA SPONSOR: Prof. Frank Maloney, Dept. of Astronomy

MLCUG STEERING COMMITTEE:
PRESIDENT: Emil Volcheck      610-388-1581   SECRETARY: Charles Curran    610-446-5239
TREAS/MEMBERS: Dewitt Stewart 610-623-5145   SYSOP/AMIGA SIG: John Deker  610-828-7897
INTERNET/Linux:Peter Whinnery 610-284-5234   DATABASE: Layton Fireng      610-688-2080
AT LARGE: Tom Johnson         610-525-3440   AT LARGE: John Murphy        610-935-4398